Center for Advanced STEM Education
This year's Women in STEM Conference has gratefully received contributions from an innumerable amount of faculty, staff, and students in order to make this a fantastic, educational, and fun conference. The planning committee would like to thank everyone that has contributed their ideas. Below are the core founding members and their biographies. Please take a moment to enjoy reading through their backgrounds.
Sophia Cherry, Ph.D.
Dr. Sophia D. T. Cherry is a Faculty Instructor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her focus at MSU Denver is to develop general chemistry labs for a more inquiry based experience for students. Dr. Cherry received her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Washington. She studied under the advisement of Professor and Chair D. Michael Heinekey. For her graduate studies, she worked towards developing a catalyst for the homogeneous hydrogenolysis of chlorofluorocarbons (the chemicals that destroy the ozone layer). While unsuccessful in finding a compound that would perform the desired hydrogenolysis, Dr. Cherry spent a large part of her graduate career focusing on outreach efforts through an NSF funded Center for Chemical Innovation (CENTC, Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis). She worked closely with local Seattle high schools to educate freshman on biodiesel synthesis and renewable energy sources. Additionally, she worked with the Seattle Pacific Science Center annually with their UW affiliated science fair, Paws on Science, where she taught adorable young kids about catalysis and organized a hands-on “Elephants Toothpaste” for the kiddos.
While in graduate school, Dr. Cherry enjoyed baking and cooking to feed her friends. Since graduating with her PhD, she isn’t sure what to do with the new free time she is experiencing. Dr. Cherry has since dabbled in baking at altitude (only somewhat successfully), knitting, Pinterest crafting, and will soon try to hike if she can ever get used to the lack of oxygen in Denver.
Megan Filbin, Ph.D.
Dr. Megan Filbin-Wong is in her third year as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Co-Director of Criminalistics at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver). For her graduate studies, Dr. Filbin-Wong studied the structural basis of ribosome manipulation and protein synthesis by the hepatitis C virus, and her findings were highlighted in both a local newspaper, as well as ScienceDaily. She completed her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in the lab of Dr. Jeffrey Kieft at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus in 2011. For her postdoctoral research, Dr. Filbin-Wong worked as a visiting scientist in the lab of Dr. Tamir Gonen at the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Research Campus in northern Virginia, where she studied the structural biochemistry of a chemotactic regulator of protein synthesis in developing neurons, using electron microscopy.
For the past ten years, Dr. Filbin-Wong has taught evening camp-in and weekend children’s workshops at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where she developed a passion for science education. Combined with her dedication to research, Dr. Filbin-Wong’s mission at MSU Denver is to teach undergraduates how to think like scientists by engaging students in multiple avenues for community outreach and independent undergraduate research. Her current projects are focused on viral RNA structural biochemistry and protein synthesis, as well as DNA forensic biochemistry. For more information about Dr. Filbin-Wong, her research and courses taught, please visit www.filbinlab.com.
April Hill, Ph.D.
Dr. April Hill is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and the Director of Criminalistics at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Dr. Hill earned a PhD in Analytical Chemistry and a Graduate Certificate in Forensic Science from Iowa State University in 2007. As part of her graduate research, she completed twelve flights aboard NASA’s microgravity aircraft, affectionately known as the “Vomit Comet.” She then completed a post doctorate in education and outreach at Penn State University’s Center for Nanoscale Science, where she developed a passion for creating hands-on science experiences for the blind. Dr. Hill’s work in this area has been published in the Journal of Chemical Education and was awarded a ChemLuminary Award from the American Chemical Society.
As a dedicated proponent of increasing minority participation in STEM fields, Dr. Hill serves on the steering committee for MSU Denver’s CO-WY AMP Program and as the academic advisor for the Women in Science student organization. Her current research efforts include projects in archaeochemistry, chemical education for students with visual impairments, and forensic chemistry. She has collaborated with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on several projects, including analyzing residues in ancient Mayan beer vessels to recreate an authentic Mayan beer and performing a demonstration of the Marsh Test for arsenic which was featured in the recent Poisons exhibit.
In her spare time, Dr. Hill enjoys being nerdy with her husband and her two sons. The “nerding” includes cosplay (Star Wars is their favorite), tabletop gaming, and binge-watching sci-fi shows (So Say We All). For more information about Dr. Hill, her courses, and her research, visit www.hill-lab.com.
Liz Moore is the Academic Program Coordinator for the Department of Biology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Liz earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a focus in biological anthropology from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2015. As an undergraduate, she worked with Dr. Todd Yokley as a teaching and research assistant in the Laboratory of Anthropology and as a tutor for the Open Osteology Lab. Her undergraduate research includes nasal function and adaptation, investigating climatically-driven variation of the human skeletal nasal cavity, which she presented at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists 2015 Annual Meeting and the 4th Annual MSU Denver Undergraduate Research Conference.
Since graduating in 2015, Liz’s areas of interest have expanded beyond biological anthropology and she is pursuing two additional degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Physics, and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at Metropolitan State University of Denver. To supplement her passion for science and STEM education, Liz volunteers at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science as a Space Odyssey Museum Guide, a Science Lounge Assistant, and a Telescope Operator.
Liz can be contacted by emailing her here.
Kelsey Smith, M.A.
Kelsey Smith, Events Coordinator for the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at MSU Denver, received her Bachelor of Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Upon graduation, she worked for the Goethe-Institut Washington in Washington, DC, helping to internationalize curriculum in US schools, and leading study tours abroad to Europe during the summer.
She eventually resigned from her position in order to travel. She spent a few years in and around Oceania, Eastern Europe, and Canada, before moving to Somaliland for two years to teach Computer Science at a boarding school. Kelsey then moved to Russia to complete a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the European University at St. Petersburg.
After returning to the United States, she began working for MSU Denver, organizing multicultural events on campus to support many of Denver’s underrepresented populations in higher education. She is also pursuing a second degree at MSU Denver in Statistical Science in order to nerd out with data.
Kelsey’s free time is spent weight lifting, baking, and building computers in order to completely dominate her competition in online gaming. She bakes a mean pie, loves Excel functions, and can do 10 pull-ups. She completed Molten Core and Blackwing Lair when they were still 40-man raids that required obscene amounts of farming and hours spent wiping. /flex
Kelsey can be contacted by emailing her here.